President Pranab Mukherjee will meet shortly two groups of people who will give him the lowdown on the deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal, the state he represented for more than 40 years in Parliament.
The All India Democratic Women’s Association, the women’s wing of the opposition CPI(M), is planning to approach him on the rising incidents of crime and violence against women and the alleged police insensitivity, which has made things worse.
And also the parents of the rape victim in Madhyamgram, north of Kolkata, will meet him on January 7.
Just a few months ago, the agitators of Kamduni, about 20 km from Kolkata, went to Rashtrapati Bhavan with a similar complaint, protesting against the rape and murder of a 20-year-old college girl.
However, the ruling Trinamool Congress continues to defend itself in the same vein.
“The Congress and CPI(M) are trying to give a bad name to the ‘maa maati manush’ government and the Trinamool is launching a campaign against this,” said party leader Mukul Roy on Sunday while talking to media persons.
Minati Ghosh, state secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, said: “It is not that there was no crime against women in the past. But over the last two to three years we are witnessing a sudden spurt in violence, especially when it comes to women. Add to these is the insensitivity and apathy of the police.”
And it is not just the view of Ghosh or allegations of leaders who could be called anti-Trinamool Congress. Hard facts from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) tell the same story.
West Bengal has the dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of crime against women for two consecutive years, according to the NCRB.
In 2011, the state had recorded 29,133 such incidents. They shot up during the Mamata Banerjee regime and reached 30,942 in 2012.
It has been a common experience that it is very difficult to persuade the police to register any complaint. And the job becomes almost impossible if the accused happens to have any connection with the ruling party.
“And what did the home minister (chief minister Banerjee holds the portfolio) do? She termed them ‘shajano ghotona’ (fabricated incidents) and ‘incidents to malign her new government’, with top IPS officers flanking her. This sent a clear and strong message to criminals that the government is there to protect them,” said Samir Aich, who was once known as a pro-change intellectual but later broke all ties with the Trinamool.
And even after all these, if a section of police officials such as Damayanti Sen, the first woman deputy commissioner of the detective department, and RK Pachnanda, former chief of the city police, dared to contradict Banerjee, the results were disastrous. They were removed from their posts immediately.
“The police have become too wary to initiate action against any leaders or, for that matter, any supporter of the ruling party. The result is cases such as the Madhyamgram rape and murder,” said Sunando Sanyal, an educationist who had campaigned for Banerjee.